A common lisp package manager (like asdf-install or mudballs) with a focus on collaboration.
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Repo-install: An ASDF-install replacement geared towards collaboration

Repo-install: An ASDF-install replacement geared towards collaboration

Repo-install is a common lisp package manager that can be used to chase down and download dependencies between common lisp libraries. Unlike Quicklisp, repo-install maintains the connection between source code on your disk and the upstream repository.

In cases where the upstream library is stored using distributed version control (DVC), the local files are stored in the same DVC system as a clone.

When the upstream library is not a DVC, repo-install will create a local DVC repository with the non-DVC distribution system (tarballs, cvs, or svn) as input to the local repository.

There are two primary advantages to this:

  • Changes you make to your local copy of the library remain in place even when you update to a newer version of the library.

  • It is much easier to submit patches to the upstream maintainer. For DVC, it is also much easier for the upstream maintainer to integrate your patches.

Both of these capabilities are particularly important when working on common lisp. Several very useful common lisp libraries are maintained on a less than full time basis. You may need to maintain your local patches for weeks or forever if the upstream maintainer doesn't have the time to integrate them sooner.

Unlike Perl, Python, and Ruby, common lisp does not have a reference implementation. Downstream users can submit valuable patches for different lisp environments, especially environments that are not easily available to a library maintainer.

Finally, common-lisp users tend to be very technical. With such an experienced user base, downstream patches should turn out to be more valuable than not.

If you don't plan on submitting patches to the upstream libraries or need to maintain local patches, go ahead and use Quicklisp instead.


Repo-install is bootstrapped using a tarball that can be found here. The tarball contains the minimum set of libraries needed to get repo-install working. The bootstrap libraries (like all repo-install libraries) are actually software repositories. Patches to these systems (including repo-install) can be submitted according to conventions for the given system.

Untar to a convenient location and add the following to your lisp initialization file.

  (load "<i>&lt;location where you untarred&gt;</i>/repo-install/boot.lisp")

Repo-install needs wget installed on your system to actually move the bits to your machine. Also, we take the philosophy that the correct version control system to use is the one the upstream library maintainer is using. Therefore, you will need Git, Bazaar, Subversion, Mercurial, and Darcs too. Using Macports on OSX, do this:

  sudo port install git-core bzr subversion darcs mercurial wget

Under debian, do:

  sudo apt-get install git-core bzr subversion darcs mercurial wget

How repo-install handles different upstream repositories

Repo-install adopts different strategies for maintaining local patches, depending on the upstream repository.

The best case is if the upstream repository is a DVC. Currently repo-install supports darcs and git. (bzr support is planned) In these cases, we maintain our local changes in the local repository and use the pull command to grab upstream patches. Patches can be submitted to the upstream repository using appropriate technique ("darcs send" or "git format-patch").

Upstream tarballs are downloaded and stored in a bzr repository named "upstream" in the library's repo-installer directory. An "update-repo" operation on these repositories will check for a new tarball, and if one exists, update this repository. Local patches are stored in a repository named "local" in the same directory. When the "upstream" repository is updated, repo-install will pull the changes to the "local", integrating your patches. Patches can be submitted to the upstream provider by diffing the "upstream" and "local" working directories.

Finally, non-distributed version control systems simply check out the upstream library. Local patches are maintained in your local working directory. Patches can be submitted to the upstream provider by getting write access to the repository, or by using the version control system's "diff" command.

The Manifest

Repo-install gets library download locations from a lisp file that we call the manifest. Currently, there is only one manifest that ships with repo-install, most-recent-manifest.lisp. This manifest can be used to download the most recent publicly available library versions.

A manifest is simply a set of make-instance expressions that create CLOS objects. We currently have CLOS objects that represent the following upstream repositories:

CLOS ClassDescription
tarball-backed-bzr-repoUpstream is a set of tarballs. Local patches are maintained in a bzr repository.
cliki-repoA tarball-backed-bzr-repo who's url is grabbed from cliki.net.
darcs-repoUpstream is a Darcs repository.
git-repoUpstream is a Git repository.
svn-repoUpstream is a SVN repository.
cvs-repoUpstream is a CVS repository.
mercurial-repoUpstream is a Mercurial repository.

You can look in most-recent-manifest.lisp for examples of each of these classes.

Feel free to add any libraries that you may need to this file and submit a patch.

Exported Functions

  • (ri:install <library>) DEPRECIATED Simply use asdf:load-system or asdf:load-op. Repo-install provides a hook to these functions to download and install any needed dependencies.

    Install the given library, possibly downloading it and any dependencies found in its asdf system definition. If a particular dependency is not found in the manifest signal an error. In this case, you'll have to add the library to the manifest and try again.

  • (ri:find-repo <library>) Find the repository for the given library.

  • (ri:update-repo <repoi>) Download any changes from the upstream repository. For distributed version control systems, this is equivalent to a pull. Non-distributed version control systems perform an update.

  • (ri:update-all-repos) Update all repos that have ever been downloaded on this machine.

  • (ri:repos-status <repo>) Return a string describing any changes made to the local working directory that are not yet checked in. If repo-install can reliably detect that no changes have been made, return nil.

  • (ri:all-repo-status) Run repo-status on all locally installed libraries. Print out descriptions of those that have uncommitted changes.

  • (ri:local-repo-changes <repo>) Return a string describing any changes made to the local repository that are not yet checked in to the upstream repository. If repo-install can reliably detect that no changes have been made, return nil.

  • (ri:all-local-repo-changes) Run local-repo-changes on all locally installed libraries. Print out descriptions of those that have uncommitted changes.

Patches and Issues

Please use the repo-install github page to submit issues and patches.

To Do

  • Automatically run regression tests on update (for libraries that have regression tests).
  • implement 'darcs trackdown' across all repository types.
  • Code to automatically submit patches.
  • Able to specify a tag or a branch on the upstream repository
  • Make it easy to publish your local patches to others.